When I have started collecting watches, I have never imagined wearing a watch like the Bell&Ross BR01-94 – Titanium Orange LE. All I ever cared for was an interesting movement, a historical watch or an interesting story.
I have once met an old gentleman who had some old watches, among which an old Longines watch. It was the only thing he managed to save from his plane crash during WWII.
Needless to say, I have spent a whole day listening to the stories he told and ended up buying some of his watches. I have actually paid more than what they were worth but the stories were amazing. The only watch he was not willing to sell was the Longines. But after hearing the crush story I did not even dare to make him an offer, the bond between them was priceless.
Years later, I stumbled upon the Bell&Ross BR01-94-TO and I instantly remembered the old story. Here was a watch that was looking as if it was just removed from an airplane dashboard. However, this is where the differences stopped.
While Longines was a veteran soldier, Bell&Ross is more of a keyboard warrior wearing an orange shirt and no trousers…
Some technical data of Bell&Ross BR01-94-TO
The case is a 46mm square titanium brick sitting flat on the hand. Its quirkiness is obvious when turning the watch: on the back there is a screw marked “Do not unscrew”. I am a self-confessed anarchist so every single time I pick the watch I have to slap myself not to reach for the screwdriver.
The dial has a fiberglass model and orange is everywhere, hands and numbers. The movement is an off the shelf ETA with a Dubois-Dupraz chronograph module.
The hands are bold and big, and, when tapped lightly, the minute hand has a one-minute jump. This seems to be a common occurrence. Both the size of the hands and the Dubois – Dupraz module are causing it. The latter due to its loose gear train.
According to some forums, Bell & Ross have stated that this is a sort of shock protection mechanism. I can imagine the face of a marketing guy, sitting with a glass of wine (French, of course) and an ash tray full of fag ends while contemplating several complain letters from unhappy customers, lighting up when the “eureka” moment arrived: “this is a shock protection mechanism”. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. I am also sure that a well-deserved vacation followed.
This watch is not someone will have it as the only watch, a revered treasure to pass on to the heirs…it is definitely something different. This is the punk loving cousin coming to a fancy family party, a “crazy watch” (with a Robin Williams French accent) which does not take itself very seriously.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like this watch for what it is. Not a serious watch, but just the crazy watch of the collection, the watch that encourages you to do stupid things.
My personal shield
I was wearing it on a drive with my old Disco 300tdi through a forest when we have come across a snow bank. It was the only one of this mild winter, everything else around us was just dirt. So I asked the kids “should we go around it or should we plough into it?”. Of course, we plough into it. We have spent the next half an hour trying to extract ourselves from the snow bank, the only white patch in the forest, while some passers were looking condescendingly… But it was loads of fun and my kids are still laughing when they are talking about this.
Every time I wear it, I get the “I see you’ve got your shield today” remark. And then there are other countless jokes that fly around and everyone is smiling. So the logical conclusion is that this Bell&Ross watch is a shield, one that I am wearing sometimes to protect me on gloomy days.
If you liked this review, please subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook.